Meet the Petful Team

Hillary R. Kitten is the boss of Dave and is Petful's real head honcho.
Hillary is the boss of our publisher, Dave, and is the real head honcho. Early on in her tenure, she instituted a mandatory naptime policy.

For its first nearly 6 years, this website started out as Pets Adviser. Then, in July 2015, sprang to life. Our goal is simple: to offer you all the tools you need to give your pet a happier life. All of us here at Petful are passionate about improving animal welfare.

Petful is based in New York City, but the whole team of freelancers is scattered across the country. Keep reading to learn more about the amazing people who are making Petful possible:


Dave Baker | Founder & Publisher

Dave has more than 20 years of experience in the media industry, including work with The New York Times and The Nation magazine.

He also worked at the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, where he and the staff shared 2 Pulitzer Prizes for work done in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2009, Dave founded Pets Adviser, which eventually became Petful.

He also runs a business proofreading service and works from his home office in Brooklyn, New York, where his 13-year-old cat, Hillary, keeps a close eye on him.

Kendall Ashley | Editor in Chief

Kendall has worked in publishing for the past several years and has written for sites like Nerdist and Geek & Sundry.

A self-proclaimed “crazy dog lady,” she has a rescue chiweenie named Chaucer.


Kristine Lacoste | Managing Editor

Kristine is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and host of a weekly radio segment featuring pet news.

She’s also the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets.

Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently pursuing a master’s degree.

Her love of animals started at a young age with cats, dogs and many frogs.


Melissa Smith | Discussions Manager

Melissa is a longtime pet lover who lives in Massachusetts with her teenage son, their cat Harrison and the spirit of their German shepherd named Gypsy.

As discussions manager for Petful, Melissa makes sure that our comments section is respectful and fun. She also writes a variety of articles on everything from grooming tips to advice on pet behaviors.

Melissa is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia design and hopes to adopt as many needy animals as she can. Harrison the cat disagrees with the latter part of this plan, but negotiations are on the table.


Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD | Veterinarian Writer

Dr. Deb, a small animal and exotics veterinarian, splits her time between her animal hospital in Massachusetts and her studio in New York City. She shares her busy life with her husband, Andy; a rescue cocker mix; and several cats.


Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS  | Veterinarian Writer

Dr. Elliott lives in North London, England, and is a graduate of the University of Glasgow. Married with 2 teenage sons, she is also housekeeping staff to several cats and a guinea pig.


T.J. Banks | Cat Behaviors Writer

T.J. is the author of Sketch People: Stories Along the Way, A Time for Shadows, Catsong, Souleiado, Derv & Co.: A Life Among Felines and Houdini, a novel for young adults.

Catsong, a collection of her best cat stories, was the winner of the 2007 Merial Human–Animal Bond Award.

T.J. has received writing awards from the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA), ByLine and The Writing Self.


Karen Doll | Writer

As a veteran homeschool teacher and chicken keeper, Karen enjoys putting her passions into words as a freelance writer on these topics.

She is married to David and is the mother of Emily and Jeremy and a menagerie of pets: a bichon frise, Pip; 3 cats, Kitty, Boo and The Bean (a.k.a. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow); and a small flock of hens.


Gayle Hickman | Buzz Writer

Bet you didn’t realize Petful was a family business. Guess what? Gayle is Dave’s mom.

She and her husband, Doug, managed Petful’s online shop out of their home in South Carolina, with Gayle handling the day-to-day tasks and Doug happily packing all the orders. He kept a big U.S. map on the wall with dozens of pins marking every location to which he had shipped orders. Almost every state had a pin in it. (Petful’s shop was discontinued not long before Doug died, far too young, in late 2016.)

Gayle and Doug shared their lives with many pets over the years — not only dogs and cats, but also rabbits, goats and chickens.


Kirsten Peek | Animal Welfare Writer

Kirsten lives in Austin and works for a nonprofit organization and as a freelance writer. She serves on the board of directors for a cat cafe that is opening soon in San Marcos, which aims to promote adoptable cats for a local shelter.

Kirsten previously worked as an adoption counselor at a no-kill animal shelter throughout college as she earned her journalism degree.

In her spare time, she fosters for local shelters and spends time with her adopted dog, Flea, and 2 adopted cats, Sarabi and Mufasa. Follow her on Twitter: @kirsten_peek.


Jillian Blume | Features Writer

Jillian is a New York City–based writer whose feature articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Observer, Marie Claire, Self and many others.

She received a master’s degree in creative writing from New York University, has taught writing and literature at the School of Visual Arts, and is currently working on a novel.

Like the rest of us at Petful, Jillian passionately supports animal welfare and rescue, and she often covers these topics in her articles.


Julie Kim | Designer

Julie not only headed up both the website design and the rebranding campaign for Petful/Pets Adviser, but she also happens to be Dave’s talented, amazing wife! She takes care of all sorts of design problems that pop up.

Even though Julie is highly allergic to cats, she loves “family time” with Hillary (pictured at the top of this page) and brushes her almost daily.

You can check out more of her work here.